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Monday, 11 March, 2002, 17:57 GMT
Child bike injury toll 'tops 100,000'
young cyclist
Many cycle accidents happen away from main roads
Safety campaigners are renewing their calls for wider use of cycle helmets as figures showed thousands of children suffer major injuries each year.

Official figures say that several thousand children are taken to hospital with injuries after cycle accidents on UK roads each year.

However, separate research suggests that nine out of 10 injuries are caused by off-road cycling.

This would increase the number of serious injuries to more than 100,000, according to some estimates.

Our message is clear - wear a helmet at all times

Bill Alker, Headway
Many involve head injuries - which could have been prevented if helmets had been worn, say the campaigners.

One study of accidents in Tucson, Arizona, found that only one out of 116 cyclists arriving at hospital had a major head injury, compared to 37 out of 168 among those not wearing a helmet.


Dr Krystyna Walton, a consultant in rehabilitation medicine at Highbank, a private clinic which takes NHS patients recovering from head injury, said: "It is imperative that parents and children realise the important of wearing helmets regardless of the distance, location, or traffic conditions of their journey.

"Cycling accidents can lead to long-term brain damage, not just broken bones."

The message over cycle helmets is being reinforced during Brain Injury Awareness Week this week.

Bill Alker of the head injury charity Headway said: "The use of cycle helmets is still not common enough for children and parents. Our message is clear - wear a helmet at all times."

Roger Vincent, from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa), said that parents should set a good example for their children.

He told BBC News Online: "Every child should wear one - peer pressure often works against that."

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